Fake delivery: Robbers use flowers, balloons to trick way into grandmother’s home

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH (WJW) -- Three brazen armed robbers posing as flower deliverymen tricked an unsuspecting grandmother to gain entry into her home, where they held her and her infant grandson at gunpoint.

The trio struck just before Mother's Day, and the 58-year-old woman opened the door, thinking she was receiving a delivery of flowers and balloons.

Instead, the men forced their way in after a brief struggle at the door. At least two had guns, and one of those was a rifle.

RELATED: 5 signs you're getting robbed the hospital

5 Signs You're Getting Robbed at the Hospital
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5 Signs You're Getting Robbed at the Hospital

This one could be an innocent mistake. There are many departments within a hospital, and it can be difficult for each one to know what the other is putting on the tab. For example, the hospital may charge for your anesthesia, and the anesthesiologist might charge you again. A quick review of your bill should reveal mistakes like this.

If you can, pay attention at the hospital (or designate somebody else) to make sure you only get billed for services actually provided. Sometimes the slip-ups are easy to overlook, like being charged for an extra dose of antibiotics that was never actually administered.

This is another easy one for the average person to miss. You may be diagnosed and treated for the flu, but charged for treatment of bronchitis. A quick Google search can help you verify the codes on your bills.

When Goldstein first started looking over his daughter's bills, this was one of the first things that stood out to him. "When I looked at my bill for my daughter, the operating room charge was $7,400. I thought that was excessive for a 20-minute procedure. The hospital tried to justify the cost by stating that it took an hour and a half to reset my daughter's leg, which means they charged me for the time it took to prepare and set up, which they are not allowed to do." The physician fee schedule search tool at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website provides payment rates to use for comparison purposes.

This is a tough one. Most doctors are independent contractors, not hospital employees. So while you may go to an in-network hospital, it's not uncommon for an out-of-network doctor to treat you. Unless you ask, you have no way of knowing up front. In emergency situations, asking your doctor what insurance he accepts is likely the last thing on your mind. But if you or someone you are with has the presence of mind to ask, your savings account may thank you for it later.

Excessive hospital billing practices will continue unless consumers get smart about examining and questioning the cost of care.

According to Goldstein, "Less than 15% of patients ask if their bill can be lowered. Of those who do ask to have their bill lowered, approximately 40% receive a discount."

Goldstein's advice: Don't pay any medical bill until you have had a chance to try and negotiate for a lower fee. And if you find fraudulent charges on your bill, it's your right to speak up. The more people who do, the more difficult it will become for unfair billing practices to continue.


"We all welcome the beauty of flowers into our lives," says neighbor Brenda Joyner, "so we're all vulnerable to that tactic."

The robbers took their time, staying in the house for about a half hour as they looked for anything they could steal.

The grandmother told them where her wallet and purse were, but they wanted more including a Gucci belt that they stole.

According to the police report, the one robber watching the grandmother and the infant on the first floor told her, "the two robbers (upstairs) is (sic) more crazy, so just do what they say...don't make no stupid moves."

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"What's concerning to me as someone whose lived her for twenty years," says neighbor Lois Powell, "is that it's been safe here, pretty much."

Fortunately, the grandmother and the baby were unhurt.

Neighbors expressed relief at that news, and hoped that people who might know something might come forward.

"None of us is immune to random violence," Joyner said.

Anyone with any information on the robbery should contact Cleveland Heights police.

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